By seeing events in the past as part of a dynamically evolving system with a large, but not indefinite, number of degrees of freedom, we can turn our attention to the multiple possibilities for change, and to the ways in which societies that are initially similarly situated may go on to diverge very sharply. Thus it is, I will argue, with societies in the 19th century that faced the challenge of building citizenship on the ruins of slavery.
Scott, Rebecca J. "Degrees of Freedom: Building Citizenship in the Shadow of Slavery." Law Quad. Notes 47, no. 2 (2004): 86-92.